Houses of Premonstratensian canons: The abbey of Hagnaby

Pages 205-206

A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1906.

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The abbey of Hagnaby is said to have been founded in 1175 by Agnes, widow of Herbert de Orreby, in honour of St. Thomas the Martyr. (fn. 1) It was a colony from Welbeck Abbey. John and Isabel de Orreby were benefactors of the next generation. (fn. 2) Very little is known of the history of this house, but the name of the abbot of Hagnaby occurs as acting in conjunction with the other abbots of the order in Lincolnshire during the quarrel with Adam de Crécy. The abbot of Hagnaby was appointed visitor for the English province at least once in the fourteenth century. (fn. 3)

Bishop Redman visited this house, like the rest, towards the close of the fifteenth century, and every time between 1475 and 1503 gave a good report of it, both in spiritual and temporal matters. In 1478 there was not only no debt, but money was owing to the canons, and there was an abundance of provisions. It was enjoined that the abbot just resigned should receive due reverence wherever he went, and that 20s. should be assigned to every priest for clothing, according to the instructions of the General Chapter. (fn. 4) The order of the house was again commended in 1482 and 1488, only on the latter occasion the visitor remarked that silence might be better kept in the refectory and cloister. (fn. 5) In 1491 several canons who were old and infirm had to be dispensed from certain observances. Some directions were given as to singing, and it was ordered that the great bell of the church should be rung at the elevation of the Host. (fn. 6) In 1494 no corrections were made, except that one canon needed reproof for not saying the gospel before mass. (fn. 7) In 1497 the injunctions as to silence were repeated, but this was the only fault found. The cellarer was enjoined to give in his accounts more regularly. (fn. 8) In 1500 the canons were again reminded of their rule of silence, and certain ritual observances prescribed, as appointed by the General Chapter. An infirmary was to be provided. (fn. 9)

These visitation reports speak very well for Hagnaby when we remember how careful and unsparing a visitor Bishop Redman was when he found anything amiss, whether it was mere irregularity or grave fault. There were about twelve canons during this time.

No later details of the history of the house are as yet known. Having an income of less than £100, it was suppressed under the earlier Act in 1536; the abbot received a pension of £16, and the canons, six in number, 20s., each. There were no arrears of ' wages.' (fn. 10) It was afterwards stated that one of the causes which excited popular indignation at the time and helped to bring about the Lincolnshire rising was the irreverent manner in which the king's officers, at the dissolution of this house, took down the pyx, containing the Blessed Sacrament, which hung above the altar. (fn. 11)

The original endowment of the abbey of Hagnaby was probably small, and included only parcels of land within the county, and the church of Hagnaby. In 1291 the temporalities were valued at £20 2s. 5d. (fn. 12) In 1428 the abbot held only three small fractions of a knight's fee in Skidbrook, Maidenwell, Trusthorpe and Fulsthorp. (fn. 13) In 1534 the clear value of the revenue was only £87 11s. 4d., including the parish church. (fn. 14) The Ministers' Accounts amounted to £160 1s. 4d. (fn. 15) Bells, lead, &c., were sold for £109 5s. 6d.

Abbots of Hagnaby

Thomas, (fn. 16) occurs between 1195 and 1214

William of Fultorp, (fn. 17) elected 1228

Peter (fn. 18)

Roger of Retford, (fn. 19) resigned 1270

John of Barrow, (fn. 20) elected 1270, died 1291

John, (fn. 21) elected 1291

Alan, (fn. 22) elected 1301

William, (fn. 23) occurs 1310

Walter, (fn. 24) elected 1312, occurs 1316

William, (fn. 25) occurs 1336, 1343, and 1346

John de Wynthorp, (fn. 26) elected 1412

John Wodthorpp, (fn. 27) elected 1440

William Anderby, (fn. 28) resigned 1475

Robert Alford, (fn. 29) elected 1475, occurs to 1488

John Boston, (fn. 30) occurs 1491 to 1529

John Hethnes, (fn. 31) occurs 1522

Edmund Toft, (fn. 32) last abbot, occurs 1534

The fourteenth-century pointed oval seal of Hagnaby (fn. 33) represents Becket's martyrdom under a trefoiled canopy with church-like architecture over it. In base, under a round-headed arch with arcading at the sides, an ecclesiastic, half length, in prayer, to the right.



  • 1. Sloane MS. 4935, fol. 25; Cott. MS. Vesp. B, xi, fol. 9d. Her husband is here called ' founder ' also, and is said to have been buried in the chapterhouse.
  • 2. Cott. MS. Vesp. B, xi, fol. 19d. 21d. 25.
  • 3. Harl. Chart. 44 E, 15. The date is probably 1343.
  • 4. Ashmole MS. 1519, fol. 13-19d.
  • 5. Ibid. fol. 29-45, 70.
  • 6. Ibid. 94d.-113.
  • 7. Ibid. 119d.
  • 8. Ibid. 127.
  • 9. Ibid. 154-5.
  • 10. Mins. Accts. 27 and 28 Hen. VIII, No. 166.
  • 11. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xii (1), 701.
  • 12. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 70.
  • 13. Feud. Aids, iii, 258, 265, 297.
  • 14. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 51.
  • 15. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 891.
  • 16. Harl. Chart. 54 E, 9. It seems probable that the superiors of Hagnaby were at first priors. Thomas, William and Peter are called priors only, and Roger of Retford is called ' first abbot' without explanation, in the chronicle of the house, which gives the date of foundation as 1175 and Roger's resignation as above.
  • 17. Linc. Epis. Reg. Rolls of Wells. He is only said to be ' presented to the rule of the house,' but is called prior in Harl. Chart. 45 C, 36, and Cott. Chart. xxix, 72.
  • 18. Cott. Chart. xxvii, 65. Contemporary of Geoffrey, prior of Markby, 1228-32.
  • 19. Cott. MS. Vesp. B, xi, fol. 26, where he is called first abbot, and Alan fourth.
  • 20. Ibid. His death is recorded 20 Edw. I.
  • 21. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. Sutton, 9.
  • 22. Cott. MS. Vesp. B, xi, fol. 51d.
  • 23. Sloane MS. 4934, fol. 27.
  • 24. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. Dalderby, 241; and Close, 10 Edw. II, m. 28 d.
  • 25. Gasquet, Coll. Angl.-Premonstratensia, ii, 223; Harl. Chart. 44 E, 15; Cal. of Pap. Letters, iii, 233.
  • 26. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. Flemyng, 62d.
  • 27. Ibid. Memo. Alnwick, 36. The name looks suspiciously like the preceding one; it is possible that the name of the abbot who died was put in by mistake for the one elected.
  • 28. Ashmole MS. 1519, fol. 24.
  • 29. Ibid.
  • 30. Ibid. 113; L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv (3), 2698.
  • 31. Linc. N. and Q. v, 36.
  • 32. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 51.
  • 33. Harl. Chart. 44 E, 14.